The following is an excerpt from an extended book review of Lester Goran’s book “Bing Crosby’s Last Song.” The book review is written more like a creative essay / short story than a book review.
The review is part of my new book -- ReejecttIIon -- A Number 2. You can purchase a copy here: http://www.amazon.com/ReejecttIIon-number-two-Daniel-Clausen-ebook/dp/B01CF3MK4I/
I tell Lester as I sit in his bar that Boyce Racklin reminds me of my dad. He couldn’t stop helping people. He was a saint, a folk hero -- but to his family, he was always a more ambiguous character. Too much of a do-gooder to do himself very much good.
Lester sees right through me. “You’re writing this damn slop to avoid writing about your dad, aren’t you?”
And my mom. But that’s not the point.
The story of how Boyce Racklin became the mythologized “Right” Racklin is on page 14 of the book.
“Don’t worry,” I tell Lester, “I won’t give it away. But I can’t help the feeling that this is my dad you’re writing about. One Christmas I find all the toys in my house gone. It turned out that my dad had donated them all to some children who had no gifts for Christmas. The kids got gifts and I got robbed.”
Lester doesn’t seem amused.
Fathers and legacies. Was Boyce Racklin a hero up until the end? Did he jump into the river to save some girl or was it a suicide? That’s the question.
“A million indignities follow the man or woman who gives himself to the poor,” I tell Lester. He still doesn’t seem amused. He also seems unimpressed with the rate of my drinking.
“I thought you were going to write this review essay about me. Here you are talking about yourself.”
“I learned from the best,” I quip and get what has to be, at best, my second or third smile of the night.
“I want to change venues,” I tell him.
“I want to go to Gotsubo in Nagasaki. My old hangout.”
He remains quiet. Who knows if he can even exist in a place beside some conjuring of his old haunts in Oakland. Perhaps there is no place for him where his spirit can rest other than the places he created for himself in his fiction.